Ah you silly bastards at Topps. May I congratulate you on a job well done. It’s been awhile since your flagship product has generated this much interest, both in the community and outside of it. And all you had to do was take a picture of a squirrel. Heck it wasn’t even an armed squirrel.
|Rally Squirrel has nothing on Machine Gun Squirrel
I know there has been a lot of virtual ink spilled about 2012 Topps base set already, but I figured I’d add my two cents as well. From the reports I’m seeing from folks who have actually ripped a few packs it seems like it’s a fun product to open. Between American Pie and this set it seems that Topps is, at least for its lower end product, skewing towards the less serious side of collecting, and there is nothing wrong with that.
What I look for in a base set is simple. Is there a good selection of players? Are the cards themselves decent to look at? Can I put the set together with a reasonable amount of effort? From what I’ve seen so far it looks like two yeses and a strong maybe.
Scanning through the checklist it looks like Topps uses the 330 card base set allotment pretty well. There are about 20 cards designated with the Rookie Card logo (including Wasteland Hall of Famer Michael Taylor), a decent mix of young players and veterans and the typical league leader multi-player cards sprinkled throughout.
From what I’ve seen the photography has improved which is something that fluctuates with Topps. Some years it’s pretty standard (2007) and some years it is pretty underrated (1992). Coupled with the simple white boarders the cards look pretty crisp.
|Image taken from Cardboard Collections Home of the Affordable Card Break!
As far as the set building option. That seems to be a bit of a problem so far. It seems there has been a lot of dupes from people buying retail and some card damage from folks buying hobby or jumbo boxes. Depending on how Topps handles customer complaints, which could be a big sticking point for some collectors.
There does seem to be the normal assortment of inserts for a Topps base set, which means there is a lot. I do think that they need to trim down the number of insert sets that they produce on a yearly basis, most collectors would probably prefer another base card as opposed to a pointless insert of a player they don’t collect. That’s not a problem specific to 2012, though; it’s been an issue for years.
If I was to chase any of the insert sets it would probably be (like a lot of others) the 1987 minis. The 1987 set does hold a special place in my heart as it was the first complete set I ever owned. I think my dad spotted me the money or bought it for me (copious amounts of alcohol have destroyed the exact memory) and I remember thinking that it was a good investment. With so many young stars in the set there was no way it wouldn’t increase in value. I was especially fond of the Bo Jackson Future Stars card with him shagging fly balls in the outfield.
The Golden Greats/Moments/Futures/Standard/Grahams/Retrievers/Gates/etc are nice but not something I’d really go out of my way to put together. The same goes with the Classic Walk-offs and Timeless Talents.
Of course, none of that is going to be a big problem for me since I’ve decided not to purchase any of the product this year. It’s not because I’m morally outraged at squirrel cards or photo-shopped free agents. Simply put I don’t have the money. I decided early on that any extra money I scrounge up will be spent on Heritage this year so I’ve cut the base set out of my life (well apart from a group break). So if I’m to trade with you this year, feel free to send me any Orioles related inserts – doesn’t look like there are that many.
In the end Topps flagship isn’t about short prints or gold bar inserts. It’s about being the most comprehensive product available (until they bring back Topps Total). People buy it because of tradition, they buy it because there is a binder on the shelf that needs filling, they buy it to see players from their favorite team, they buy it because building a set is fun. Gimmicks and variations don’t change that, but they do bring in new collectors and people outside of our world talking about it. That interest makes money for Topps and if it doesn’t appeal to you, fine there is enough out there in the world for you to collect. Don’t take it so seriously, after all they’re just cards of men playing a child’s game.
|Your unasked for Steve Downie photo of the day - getty images Scott Audette